Murphy clarifies vaccine mandate for health care workers, does not include 2nd booster

Published: Apr. 13, 2022

Executive Order No. 294 comes on the heels of the April 11 deadline for New Jersey health care workers to receive their first booster shots.

But in recent weeks, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster for people ages 50 and over and those who are immunocompromised. The second shot, which covers both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna two-dose mRNA vaccines, raised questions about what constitutes being “fully vaccinated.”

“A covered worker is considered ‘up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations’ if they have received a primary series, which consists of either a 2-dose series of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine and the first booster dose for which they are eligible, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said a news release from the governor’s office.

Murphy nonetheless encouraged those who are eligible for the second booster to get it.

He said they should do so to “give themselves an added dose of defense against COVID-19, like I did yesterday.”

“The numbers here in New Jersey and from around the nation are clear — getting boosted is directly linked to less-severe COVID-19 symptoms and illness and far lower rates of hospitalization and death,” Murphy said. “Our steadfast vaccination efforts have effectively lowered the risk we face in New Jersey, and as we navigate the path to normalcy, we must continue to do all we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

The governor’s vaccine mandate required health workers to get their booster shot by April 11 or within three weeks of becoming eligible, whichever was later.

Corrections officers and others who work in “high risk congregate care settings” must be fully inoculated by May 11 or within three weeks of becoming eligible for a booster shot.

It is up to the hospitals and other employers to impose disciplinary action — including the possibility of termination — against non-compliant workers. Employers who do not enforce the mandate could face penalties, according to the governor’s Executive Order No. 290.

Employers may grant exemptions based on medical or religious reasons.

Most hospital workers across the nation are required to be fully vaccinated without a testing option under an order by President Joe Biden that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in January.

Ninety percent of the hospital workforce in New Jersey complied with an earlier mandate requiring health care workers to have their primary vaccine series, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. The association said it does not have data on how many have received booster shots.

Covered health care settings and high-risk congregate settings must maintain a policy that requires workers to provide adequate proof that they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-04-14 03:29:04 -0700